Success Academy looks to open 14 more charter schools after political victory

Success Academy, founded by Mayor de Blasio rival Eva Moskowitz, applied for permits to open new schools in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. The SUNY Charter Schools Institute needs to approve it.

This article originally appeared in The Daily News on June 10th, 2014.

BY SABRINA CASERTA , BEN CHAPMAN , STEPHEN REX BROWN

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Tuesday, June 10, 2014, 9:33 PM

Success breeds Success. Fresh off a decisive political victory over her longtime foe Mayor de Blasio, Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy Charter Schools will apply for permits to open 14 new schools in the city, the network said Tuesday.

If approved by the SUNY Charter Schools Institute, the new charters will be in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx and open in 2015 and 2016.

“These families — representing more than a dozen neighborhoods — are desperate for great schools,” said Moskowitz. “Even with 14 more schools, we will not make a dent in the demand we are seeing.”

The firebrand founder of the network credited Gov. Cuomo’s “charter-friendly legislation” for setting the stage for its most ambitious expansion since opening in 2006.

Success Academy operates 22 schools, with 10 more set to open in the fall. It is the biggest charter operator in the city and each spot at its schools is coveted by applicants. More than 14,400 families applied for less than 3,000 open seats at Success schools in the coming school year.

Parents picking up students at Success Academy Harlem 1 said the place lived up to the hype.

Mame Ndiaye said her 6-year-old daughter, who just graduated kindergarten, benefitted immensely from Success Academy. “I want everyone to have an opportunity to go to a school like this,” Ndiaye, of Harlem, said.

But Zakiyah Ansari, of the Alliance for Quality Education, worried the latest batch of charters predicts more showdowns over charter schools sharing space with public school buildings. “Before we create more divisiveness with co-locations we need to make sure we’re investing in the right place, especially in the traditional public schools,” said Ansari, who is a frequent critic of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s charter school policies.

Critics also insist Success schools force out high-needs students in a relentless pursuit of strong standardized test scores — a charge the chain denies. SUNY has never denied one of the network’s applications. The charter authorizer approved seven new city charters last week. The official decision on the new Success charters is expected by the end of the year.

Under new laws created by Moskowitz’s ally Cuomo, the city will have to provide space for new charter schools in public school buildings or pay rent for them elsewhere.

The city has already set aside $5.4 million a year for the next four years to pay rent for three Success schools de Blasio booted from district buildings in February before reversing course.

City Education Department officials are playing it cool on the network’s expansion bid. “It’s our goal to invest in all our public schools to make sure parents have great options for their children, regardless of what zip code they live in,” said schools system spokeswoman Devora Kaye. “We will review these new proposals as SUNY makes its decisions.”

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Author: sabrinacaserta

Sabrina Caserta, born and bred in Bronx, New York, is a freelance reporter whose work has appeared in the New York Daily News and Street Sense- a homeless-run street paper located in the District. As a member of Roger Williams University’s class of 2016, Sabrina studied Journalism and Political Science. This fueled her passion for social justice reporting, including issues of homelessness, institutionalized racism, poverty, education and the environment. She also served as the Project Director of the nation-brand initiative, The Re:Imagine Jamaica Project, and as a Resident Assistant for three years. As an avid reader, health enthusiast and travel addict, Sabrina enjoys yoga, cooking and writing in her spare time. She aspires to one day be an investigative journalist and travel the world. Twitter: @sabrinacaserta Email: sabcaserta AT gmail DOT com

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